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Continuing to adapt in Stephen Walters’ 300th year


This year marks the 300th year anniversary of Sudbury-based fabric mill Stephen Walters. Julius Walters, managing director and the tenth generation of the Walters family to run the business, discusses the how the firm is coping with the current circumstances

Stephen Walters has been designing and weaving some of the world’s finest fabrics since 1720. We are a vertical mill and the entire process from design concept to finished fabric can be followed through the factory.

The last few weeks have been a life-changing experience and we recognise the future is uncertain. What we can be sure of is that we remain committed to our customer relationships and ongoing collaborations.

(The Stephen Walters sales team working remotely)


Our production site re-opened on Monday 27th April. In recognition of the importance of social distancing, we are now in a position to follow best practice on site following government guidelines. Our main priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff.

As a British manufacturer we value the amazing work of our National Health Service and frontline staff.

Over the past few weeks, we have been able to contribute to the ongoing pandemic by helping to produce protective face masks and supplying scrubs to local hospitals.

We have been able to offer fabric from the mill to provide individuals with the materials they need to create their own non-medical face masks.

Since posting the initiative online, we have received more than 1,000 requests for the supplies, which are designed to combat the transmission of Covid-19.

Susan Scott, who runs the Stephen Walter’s mill shop, explained: “We have been busy putting together mask kits, with detailed instructions on how to sew them – it’s fantastic that they’re proving so popular.

“They are made up of our fabric with a calico lining, and elastic to hold them in place. All that’s needed to assemble is a needle, thread and a pair of sharp scissors.”

Another initiative that has taken place involves some of the workforce that are currently furloughed and have volunteered to help create medical scrubs, gowns and pillow cases for staff at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds on behalf of the facility’s fundraising scheme, the My Wish Charity.

One of our main aims has always been to provide support to our local area, so we are delighted to be able to help out in any way possible in these extremely challenging times.

We have been amazed at the response to the kits and are working really hard to try to meet demand by making enough for everyone who needs them.

UKFT is in constant dialogue with the government and is outlining the latest support available for businesses on our website. We will update the details as and when the situation changes. 

UKFT Coronavirus Guidance